The origination of the DMC Company began in 1746 when a 23-year-old artist, Jean-Henri Dollfus, and two young entrepreneurs, Jean-Jacques Schmalzer and Samuel Koechlin joined forces and became the first principals of a company that would eventually evolve into DMC. The firm, originally known as Koechlin, Schmalzer & Co., linked Dollfus’s artistic talents with Koechlin’s financial backing and Schmalzer’s wholesale experience. The fashion trend at the time was painted fabrics, and they successfully focused and capitalized on this. They were the very first to manufacture hand painted Indian prints in Europe.
The business thrived solely as a fabric printing business for many years and was run jointly by the two brothers, Jean-Henri and Jean Dollfus. Their vision for the company was to export their fabrics to all parts of the world.
Jean-Henri Dollfus’ nephew, Daniel Dollfus, took over the business near the end of the 18th century, and in 1800 married Anne-Marie Mieg. As was often the custom, he joined his wife’s name onto his and gave the company the new trade name of Dollfus-Mieg & Compagnie, or D.M.C.
The Dollfus-Mieg et Compagnie concentrated on printed textiles for nearly a century, but in 1841 began production of sewing thread. This gave them the opportunity to expand into other markets. The sewing threads gained in importance when the company bought the patent rights to a process called mercerization developed by chemist John Mercer. This process involved passing the cotton thread through caustic soda, which modified the thread by giving it strength, longevity and a silky appearance. The thread could also be more easily dyed and rivaled silk yarns in appearance; thus a much less expensive product was born. Before the end of the century, DMC had established itself as one of the world’s premier producers of sewing threads and decorative yarns.
DMC established strong links with the famous embroiderer, Therese de Dillmont which enhanced the company’s reputation. A strong friendship developed between Dillmont and Jean Dollfus-Mieg, and she moved to a town near Mulhouse, France, where she founded her own embroidery school in close cooperation with DMC. She traveled extensively, studied needlework in many countries, collected outstanding pieces of embroidery, and became internationally known.
Embroidery floss was introduced in 1898, and by the early 20th century DMC achieved worldwide dominance of the thread and printed fabric market. Its products were available in more than 100 countries, and its sewing threads enjoyed a near monopoly of many of the company’s markets.